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Lunging Etiquette - Rude or Not Rude?

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  • Lunging Etiquette - Rude or Not Rude?

    Say there is an indoor arena that is roughly 40 meters long and an average width (it is probably longer than 40 meters, but roughly that). If there were no one else in the arena, you could fit exactly two horses lunging on 20 meter circles, one at each end, and the horses would be passing fairly close (but safely) to each other in the middle. No one would be able to ride if two horses were lunging.

    There is just one person riding in the arena, and that person has just gotten on.

    Is it rude to come in and lunge one horse at one end of the arena? Lunging at one end will mean that the person riding in the arena will be restricted to a 20 meter circle for the entire time the lunging is going on, and will need to pass fairly close to the lunging horse at the center point of the ring unless timed perfectly. Riding around the outside of the circle to use the whole arena would be quite close, and let's just assume not safe in most instances.

    Does your answer change depending on reason for lunging, length of time the lunging is going on, the temperament of the horse being lunged, or the temperament of the horse being ridden? Does your answer change if it is an occasional thing vs. a frequent thing?

    Just curious how people feel about this. Winter is coming, and quarters are about to get closer...

  • #2
    I would consider it all right, assuming the horse was well-behaved (they were lunging, not letting them run around on a long line to 'get the sillies out') and they were reasonably quick about it. If that's the only place to work your horse, that's the only place to work your horse, and it's not fair to expect the person lunging to wait until the lone rider is done, but it's also not fair for the person lunging to either let the horse play like a crazy person or monopolize half the ring for an hour.
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    • #3
      I am not sure why longing behavior exponentially increases in winter. I am not sure why people longe AT ALL, since in my personal opinon it is one of the least useful things you can do with a horse and there are several (non-riding) things I think you can do with a horse that are infinitely more useful. Somehow I have survived for several years with my horses never longing them (even the one I broke as a 3.5 year old after his first two weeks!), and have put pretty much zero of my in-training ottbs on a longe (groundwork is different) but apparently everyone with one teenaged horse that they have owned for years and years and years needs to longe after Labor day.

      The air becomes crisp and suddenly everything is spinning around, half the time not even in side reins or paying even a whit of attention to the handler, ignoring "whoa!" commands while the person pleadingly tries to get a downward transition, or alternatively needing to be exhorted mightily to elevate their gait past a trudge as the human leaps and hops and crazily flings the whip about, OR they are bucking and farting and making everybody else go for a carnival ride.

      I just suffer silently through it.

      I feel like I have no more right to the arena than they do and if they want to do this completely useless exercise then I just ride on my 20m circle. Who am I to tell them they can't use the ring?
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      • #4
        If I am longeing in an arena, with a rider also in the arena, I am keeping the horse on a small enough circle that the rider can pass my horse and use the entire rail. I may let the horse out a bit if the rider is on the other side, but will bring it back in as the rider approaches.

        That is, unless we have spoken and agreed to split the arena.

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        • #5
          well, for starters you would not be able to go the whole 20m circle on the longe.

          But even when you just get the ripples out, when people are riding, one would be the limit, and as stated above, a full 20m circle is not safe.


          But when more than 2 people need to ride, longing should be a no-go.
          Originally posted by BigMama1
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Simkie View Post
            If I am longeing in an arena, with a rider also in the arena, I am keeping the horse on a small enough circle that the rider can pass my horse and use the entire rail. I may let the horse out a bit if the rider is on the other side, but will bring it back in as the rider approaches.

            That is, unless we have spoken and agreed to split the arena.
            Same here. If my horse is getting out of hand on the longe line, I leave. Even a few bucks warrant me reeling him in and leaving the arena.

            At every barn I have boarded, riders get precedence over everyone else. Sometimes if someone just needed to longe a horse to get a few bucks out before riding, especially when the temp has dropped and they all have the wind blowing up their skirts, I'd gladly just hang out in the corner of the arena for a few minutes. But BO/BM/trainer would always step in for someone taking up massive space in an arena for longing when riders are trying to use the arena.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by morganpony86 View Post
              Same here. If my horse is getting out of hand on the longe line, I leave. Even a few bucks warrant me reeling him in and leaving the arena.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                I just suffer silently through it.

                I feel like I have no more right to the arena than they do and if they want to do this completely useless exercise then I just ride on my 20m circle. Who am I to tell them they can't use the ring?
                I'm another silent suffer-er... Unless it's a common occurrence.
                I winter-board at a facility with a 20m x 40m indoor arena. The only reason I board at all is for the indoor so that I can continue to ride and train (that's the key).

                I can't do everything I want/need when stuck on a 20 m circle for 45 minutes while someone lunges the yahoos out (because that's what lunging seems to be at my barn). I will refuse to ride with a few of the horse/lunger pairs, so if they beat me to the arena, I'll stand by the door until they are finished. Conversely when they ask if it's ok to lunge while I'm riding, I have no hesitation saying no.

                I am lucky in that I tend to ride during non prime times. I have only had an issue with one other person (a non-boarder who walks their horse up the road to lunge for exercise). As the paying boarder, I feel that my (paid) arena use takes precedence to running his horse around for an hour. Unfortunately, he's one of those lungers who walks the circle all over the arena, so it's really unsafe to be in the arena at all when he's there...

                I look forward to the cold because then the fair-weather owners stop coming out to even lunge.

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                  I am not sure why longing behavior exponentially increases in winter. I am not sure why people longe AT ALL, since in my personal opinon it is one of the least useful things you can do with a horse and there are several (non-riding) things I think you can do with a horse that are infinitely more useful. Somehow I have survived for several years with my horses never longing them (even the one I broke as a 3.5 year old after his first two weeks!), and have put pretty much zero of my in-training ottbs on a longe (groundwork is different) but apparently everyone with one teenaged horse that they have owned for years and years and years needs to longe after Labor day.

                  The air becomes crisp and suddenly everything is spinning around, half the time not even in side reins or paying even a whit of attention to the handler, ignoring "whoa!" commands while the person pleadingly tries to get a downward transition, or alternatively needing to be exhorted mightily to elevate their gait past a trudge as the human leaps and hops and crazily flings the whip about, OR they are bucking and farting and making everybody else go for a carnival ride.

                  I just suffer silently through it.

                  I feel like I have no more right to the arena than they do and if they want to do this completely useless exercise then I just ride on my 20m circle. Who am I to tell them they can't use the ring?
                  Sigh. I agree with you on lunging being useless, Meup. If anything, I think the way most people do it just whips them up more. I do occasionally stick my horse on the lunge line to assess his soundness and also to make sure his lunging skills remain tuned for when he needs to lunge for the vet, etc. He knows voice commands (and follows them). He is not permitted to play while lunging, either.

                  Here is my problem, I guess: my horse, he's (a) young and smart, (b) can be very hot/fresh in winter (but rideable), and (c) for a variety of reasons is not supposed to be spending a lot of time on circles (prior suspensory injury, hock issues, stifle issues, hindquarter muscle tightness). His physical issues are well-managed and he is sound, but it takes work and careful management to keep him that way. If I spend the winter riding him on 20 meter circles, he's: (a) going to break and (b) going to lose his mind.

                  Now, even if another horse is raising the roof, I expect him to behave. But at some point...well...you can only expect so much. And the physical component is a real pickle. I end up feeling like I can only walk him for my whole ride if I'm stuck on the 20 meter circle. That doesn't help with his soundness (he needs real work to stay physically comfortable), and it REALLY doesn't help with his state of mind (I will be dead by the end of winter if this is all I can do all winter). I go out of my way to time my rides so that I can make the most of them. But this all goes out the window if I get on and then someone comes in to lunge immediately and stays in there for 30 minutes (or more).

                  Anyway, I'm trying to see all sides of the issue. If I'm unreasonable for finding this behavior rude, well, then I guess it is my problem. I personally would never dream of just going in and telling someone they need to stay on one end of the arena because I'm going to lunge, and I have a horse that lunges very well! I don't mind a quick soundness check or for the vet to look at or whatever, but long lunge sessions, especially with wild horses...they test my patience.

                  If the majority view is that I'm the one who needs to just deal with it, I guess I will suck it up. Unfortunately, I am afraid that my horse's sanity and soundness may suffer.

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                  • #10
                    Rules at barns have been to :

                    Riders have priority over longers

                    2 longers - no riders

                    1 rider - 1 longer

                    2 riders - no longer

                    1 lesson - no longer (other riders are allowed but give priority to the lesson)

                    Misbehaved horse must be calmed down quickly or they get out; no matter if on the longe or under saddle. Or unless ok with the other riders/longers.
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                    Originally posted by LauraKY
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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      I should add that I ride at night and work full time during the day, so just waiting out the 30 minute lunge session (or longer) is not always an option if I'm going to make it out of the barn by closing time.

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                      • #12
                        People seriously lunge for 30+ mins?? I used to lunge my mare in side reins for no more than 10-15 mins at a time and was always strictly told anymore than that was bad for the horse.

                        I would bring it up with the BO. You have just as much right to the arena as they do.
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                        • #13
                          Where I board whoever gets in the arena first gets first dibs on what is going on. There is one girl that rides out of control so we all wait until she is done. I have 3 horses, and they get lunged 2 times a week. The are not lunged because it is cold or they are nuts - they are lunged being bited in side reins, sometimes an overcheck, sometimes over ground poles. It is a training method not just to have a horse run around in circles.
                          Anywhere I have ever boarded you can wait your turn if you don't like what is going on in the indoor but there is no riding is first before lunging. Everybody pays the same board, everyone has the same rights.

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                          • #14
                            I think it's rude to longe when there are people who wish to ride. It's a riding arena. If enough of you need to longe, why not raise money and install a round pen?
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                            • #15
                              Put me in the "riders take precedence, *always*" camp. I don't longe my horse very often; it isn't good for her soundness, and she can get... silly on the longe line. The idea of needing to "longe a horse down" before riding it makes me cringe, a bit.

                              Our barn has a 25 by 65 meter indoor, so theoretically at least there is room for someone longeing, if it's not too crowded. But I don't like it... especially with a "playful" horse on the longe.

                              ETA: much less of a problem with a horse in sidereins being properly worked by an experienced longeur!
                              You have to have experiences to gain experience.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Event4Life View Post
                                People seriously lunge for 30+ mins??
                                When it becomes a replacement for riding the horse, yes.
                                On and on and on, lalalalaalaaalaaa.


                                First we warm up both ways at all three gaits with no side reins, then we do both ways with side reins, etc etc etc, round and round we go. Bonus points if the horse is looking at the arena ceiling and cross cantering the whole time, and if you let the horse go round and round for at least 50 revolutions before asking for any transition or even, heaven forfend, a little inside bend.

                                Sometimes I can even get an entire ride in on my horse during which we stretch long and low at all three gaits, do lateral work when I can snag a long side for three seconds, do transitions, practice TOH and pirouettes, and GET ALL OF THAT DONE and be finished before they are done spinning around.
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                                • #17
                                  The arena at the barn I board at is big enough to easily take one lunger and 2-3 riders. Even if there's only one other person there, I ask if it's ok for me to lunge and where I'd be out of their way.
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                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Event4Life View Post
                                    People seriously lunge for 30+ mins?? I used to lunge my mare in side reins for no more than 10-15 mins at a time and was always strictly told anymore than that was bad for the horse.

                                    I would bring it up with the BO. You have just as much right to the arena as they do.
                                    Some people do, yes. Not everyone, but it seems like I have very bad luck in being at the barn when people are lunging. I'm reluctant to raise it as an issue if the majority view is that I am the one who needs to suck it up and deal. Plus, it isn't always the same people all the time. So I doubt that most people realize that sometimes my rides are impaired for like 3 rides in a row, because the same people are not always there to see it. There are other nights where things like lunge lessons go on, and I just don't ride those nights anymore because I plan around it.

                                    It's a touchy point with me, both because of my circumstances with my horse and also because the barn I was in last winter was absolutely OVER THE TOP with lunging (and they didn't turn horses out...like...at all...all winter), so I'm extra sensitive to it now. As it currently stands at my barn, things are workable (and I love the barn, the BO, the boarders, etc. in every other respect). I think I have just been having a run of bad luck and timing, so I am hopeful that on the whole things will even out and I will be able to ride my horse using the full arena more often than not. I fully understand that things can't always go my way, so if this is kind of an infrequent thing...well, I can live with it.

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Jsalem View Post
                                      I think it's rude to longe when there are people who wish to ride. It's a riding arena. If enough of you need to longe, why not raise money and install a round pen?
                                      Well, I don't really think anyone "needs" to lunge - at least not frequently or for long periods. Although I would probably pay for it if it would keep people away from me when I'm riding, lol. That said, it's a space and cost issue. There really isn't anywhere to put something like that on the property, and it would have to be inside (and therefore quite expensive to construct).

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                                      • #20
                                        Barns I have been at have always had the following rules regarding lunging:

                                        1. If you want to lunge and someone is already riding, you have to get the OK from the other rider(s) before proceeding to lunge.
                                        2. If you are already lunging and someone comes in to ride, you must lunge on a small enough circle so that riders may safely pass on the rail.
                                        3. 15 minute MAX when people are riding.
                                        4. If your horse is being wild on the lunge and is upsetting the other horses that are being ridden, you need to stop lunging.
                                        5. No lunging if someone is having a lesson, unless the trainer gives the OK.
                                        6. Only one horse may be lunged at a time when there are riders present.

                                        Even when there haven't been written rules regarding lunging, these seem to be the unwritten rules that just get followed anyway. Maybe it's just a show barn thing, but my feeling is that to do otherwise is rude. I would definitely be upset if every time I went to ride there were yahoos lunging for 30+ minutes and monopolizing the ring.
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